Germs at Daycare
Q. I keep my daughter home from daycare whenever she has the sniffles, but not everyone is so considerate. How can I keep her from getting infected by other kids' germs?
A. Sorry to break the bad news -- you probably can't. But here's something that might make you feel better: The everyday bugs that kids pick up in daycare actually may be a good thing. While preschoolers in daycare catch more colds than kids who stay home, research suggests that they get sick less often once they enter grade school. Why? Each bug they encounter helps build up their immune system so they can better fight off other germs.
Still, it's important for your daycare provider to take steps to minimize the spread of germs: She should insist that the children wash their hands frequently -- and follow that rule herself. She shouldn't let children share cups, utensils, or clothing. She should clean up quickly after meals, and keep bathrooms and changing areas spick-and-span. (Talk to her if you feel she's negligent in these areas.)
Finally, your caregiver needs to have a firm sick-day policy and to communicate it clearly to parents: It's okay to send a kid to daycare if she has the sniffles, but if she's running a fever or has a rash, an earache, diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal pain, that child should stay home -- for her comfort as well as for the health and safety of the other kids.